Are we really in the middle of a “war for talent”?

In a recent article ‘Are we really in the middle of a “war for talent”?’ published by TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council), Adwoa Buahene questions whether there is really a scarcity of suitable workers or is it that the systemic barriers in recruitment practices mean we overlook suitable candidates?

While the decline in employment following the onset of COVID-19 was sharp, the Australian labour market has rebounded quickly and the National Skills Commission has found that all states are experiencing high skills shortages in the Australia. Infrastructure Australia estimates that by 2023, demand for labour and skills will be 48% higher than supply, three times higher than shortages experienced in 2017-2018.

The WA August 2021 Skills Summit identified skilled migration as a critical strategy to address the skills shortage in Western Australia. However, while border closures continue to impact access to skills and labour, more work needs to be done to address the under-employment and unemployment of migrants already living in Australia so they can be recognised in the recruitment process.

Kaleidoscope Initiative’s Acting Project Lead, Krishna Karangiya believes, “If we fail to utilise the pool of talent we have onshore right now, Australia will miss a big opportunity. “Employers, service providers and all spheres of government can work together to support skilled workforce that is underutilised and underrepresented in engineering and all other sectors.”

A recent report by Engineers Australia highlights the unemployment rate of migrant engineers and how it impacts on the performance of Australia’s skilled migration program. “Of the top 10 migrant groups by country of origin, which deliver 67.1% of all migrant engineers, all have higher rates of unemployment than Australian-born engineers. For those from India, China, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the differences are stark. The only source countries that come within one percentage point of the Australian-born rate are England and South Africa.”

According to a report by RBE Economics “the future depends on better integration of diverse workers. There are large groups of underutilized people who could join the workforce or be more fully employed. Youth and immigrants could be better integrated and offered more opportunities.”

In his article Buahene states, “That if hiring processes are not inclusive; these candidates will never get discovered … and steps need to happen at every touchpoint along the process from writing the posting, to advertising, to assessing resumes and interviewing to ensure the hiring committee takes an equitable approach. Initiatives such as those that address hiring bias ensure that international credentials are not discounted, and ensure the posting is disseminated beyond the “usual” networks, are critical.”

Kaleidoscope Initiative(KI) delivers the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program(KMP) which has been created in consultation with TRIEC, to help migrants who are unemployed or under-employed to improve their employment potential and become recognised in the recruitment process. KI also works with employers, service providers and government groups to assist them to harness the rewards that a diverse and inclusive workforce offers.